Updates from School in a Bag Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • School in a Bag 3:37 pm on April 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hello, , , , SchoolBag, , supporter,   

    Hello from School in a Bag – to friends old and new! 

    Dear School in a Bag supporter

    Greetings…and for some of you, welcome back to the School in a Bag blog!

    Now what does that mean I hear some of you ask? Well, I am writing to admit that for the past three years (since we started using our bespoke database) a glitch in the coding has meant that some of you have not been receiving our regular blog posts. In addition to this, the system fault has also not been adding our new supporters to the mailing list. For this mistake, we are of course very sorry…you can imagine our shock when we discovered this and realised that 4,400 contacts were floating in the system!!

    So, please accept our apologies and hello from us here at School in a Bag. I am aware that in the past three years your interests may have changed and you may well have shifted your attention and support to other organisations. That is absolutely fine and if this is the case, please click unsubscribe from the bottom of this email. If you are happy to hang in there with us and receive some updates about what we are up to then please sit back and enjoy our news.

    To give you a brief update, School in a Bag have now distributed 75,551 SchoolBags to children in 35 countries and with a consignment currently being handed out in Bulgaria as I write, that will take us up to country no. 36.

    For those of you new to the Blog, around 28th of every month we send out a ‘Blog in a Bag’ post which focuses on our supporters and what is that they do/have done to support School in a Bag. This month’s ‘Blog in a Bag’ focuses on a merry group of 35 runners who took part and completed the 7th annual Yeovil Half Marathon on Sunday March 26th.


    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 22: The Yeovil Half Team

    Last year, the organisers of the Yeovil Half Marathon Total Buzz Events and Full on Sport changed the course so that the start and finish were in Yeovil Town Centre. It was an inspired move which not only helped raise the profile of the event but also generated a real buzz in the town. 22 runners ran for team School in a Bag is 2016 and we were excited to see whether we could increase this number for Yeovil Half No.7. Thanks to our Christmas pop up shop in The Quedam Shopping Centre (where the finish of the race is located) and to the fact that AWASA (AgustaWestland Apprentice and Student Association) for Leonardo Helicopters have chosen SIAB as their charity of the year, we managed to assemble a record-breaking team of 35 runners. Runners wore a branded running top with their name on it and the majority also wore an empty SchoolBag rucksack giving the charity great exposure whilst making the athletes identifiable within the crowd. The team also included yours truly who ran dressed as a SchoolBag!

    For the past three years I have been lucky enough to push my daughters around the course in a buggy but have always fancied making a big SchoolBag outfit to run in. So, in January I started researching which materials would make the best framework and opted for 15mm push-fit plumbing pipe and the connectors since this was lightweight, flexible and could be connected together to form the shape. The framework was then built in to the harness of a deconstructed rucksack so that it could stay attached to me and not move around when I ran. The first few training runs in just the framework caused some strange reactions from the cars and people I met out on the road – it looked like in was in full upper body traction but they proved invaluable to the development of the outfit. The biggest adjustment I needed to make was to keep the framework away from my front as this hindered my running stride. The additional T bar which connected to the waist harness of the rucksack rectified the issue and enabled the framework to keep it’s form. The modification would allow me a three quarter running stride which proved quite efficient.

    However, the mastery in the SchoolBag outfit appearance is thanks to Wendy Pit-Kerby, a seamstress from Sherborne who could visualise how the red SchoolBag coating would look and fit to the frame. After a couple of sittings with a template she manufactured an incredible shell from tent material that replicated the scale, proportions and appearance of a SchoolBag. With an all-in-one red lycra body suit, the outfit was complete!

    Alongside the SchoolBag raising awareness, the aim was to also try and raise enough money to fund 25 SchoolBags. If you would like to help me try and reach my target (I’m not quite there yet!) please donate via this link. Thank you in advance.

    The run was great fun and the atmosphere amongst the team and around the course was fabulous. Within team SIAB were runners from Yeovil businesses The Cow and Apple and The Kazbar – who formed their own sub-teams and competed against each other by calculating which team finished with the best average time. Within the wager, the losing team captain (both were male) would have his legs shaved and sadly, Gareth from The Cow and Apple is now the proud owner of very smooth pins!

    Big thanks must go out to Total Buzz Events and Full on Sport, for choosing School in a Bag as one of the three charities the run supported, and to Wendy for manufacturing a magnificent SchoolBag cover at no cost. The outfit survived the run and will now become a mascot for the charity. Thanks also to team runner Jules Richards who provided massages post race in exchange for donations and finally, congratulations to all of the runners from Team SIAB for completing the course and raising money.

    If you would like to join Team SIAB for the 8th yeovil Half Marathon in 2018, please email: events@schoolinabag.org or if five miles is more your thing, we’ve got our 2nd annual Hash Run on Tuesday 2nd May here at Home Farm. More details can be found here.

    Warmest regards,

    Luke Simon

    Founder and CEO of School in a Bag



    Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 15.12.29


  • School in a Bag 11:22 am on February 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 21: A new member of the team. 

    Our blog in a bag this month comes from Annabel Bates who has supported School in a Bag for many years – but has recently taken on a more involved and regular role with us. Over to Annabel to introduce herself and tell you a little bit more…

    My name is Annabel, I’m 31, and I live in Yeovil with my Husband and my 2 children.  I was born and grew up in Yeovil, going to Birchfield and Buckler’s Mead School and then on to Yeovil College. When I left College I moved away from Yeovil for a couple of years to live my my partner, but once we married and had our  1st child we moved back to Yeovil to be closer to family and friends.

    By the time we got back to Yeovil, The Piers Simon Appeal and School in a Bag were already established and Home Farm Festival had been running for a few years. We had 2 small kids, a love of music and camping so the festival appealed to us straight away and from our first weekend we were totally hooked! As we learnt more about the charity and all the fantastic work it does it made sense to get more involved and gradually I got involved with the Big Bag Pack at Tesco and other events that School in a Bag put on throughout the year.

    In 2015 I turned 30 and celebrated by asking family and friends to fund a Schoolbag on my behalf rather than buying a present. I smashed my target of raising enough money to pay for 30 SchoolBags (one for each year) and those bags went off to Haiti to change the lives of poor, vulnerable and disaster affected children.

    In late 2016 I happened to be in the Quedam just as the School in a Bag shop was opening and I went in to say hello – and left having agreed to help out a couple of times a week! Sensing my willingness to help out (and inability to say no) Luke offered me a role volunteering for the Charity on a regular basis one day a week and the rest is history!In ‘real life’ I work as a consultant for Slimming World with groups in Yeovil on a Thursday and Friday so we agreed that I would volunteer on a Monday to fit in around that and my family life. I’m based in the School in a Bag Office helping out with admin, festival and event planning, social media and pretty much anything else that needs an extra pair of hands. I’m pretty honoured to have been asked to be a part of this amazing group of people and start helping to make a difference to as many little lives as I can.







  • School in a Bag 11:07 am on February 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    An video update from The Woodheads. 

    Our most recent Blog in a Bag post told you all about brother and sister duo Rob and Georgina Woodhead who travelled to Nepal to distribute Schoolbags that they had funded themselves. If you haven’t seen that post you can view it here:  


    Further to that post Georgina and Rob have shared a video of their trip to Nepal which we would love to share with you. You can find it here:


    Thanks to Georgina and Rob for their fantastic support!



  • School in a Bag 11:38 am on February 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    American Diner Night – Friday 10th March 


    american night lo-res poster


    This fab event is happening soon – and we still have some tickets available!

    It’s all happening here in the barn at Home Farm HQ  on Friday 10th March, from 7pm-11pm.

    Tickets are £20pp and for that you will get delicious American-themed food from No. 5 Catering, hip swinging line dancing by Toe The Line, a licenced bar, milkshakes and games. We’ll also be holding a raffle with all proceeds going to School in a Bag, oh, and suitable dressing up is optional but strongly encouraged

    To book your place, please email: events@schoolinabag.org or call the office: 01935 849160



  • School in a Bag 2:56 pm on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    SIAB ‘Blog in a Bag’ No. 20: The Woodheads visit Nepal. 

    This edition of Blog in a Bag is written by one of our supporters Rob Woodhead who, along with his sister Georgina, spent time in Nepal in 2016 having previously done gap years there when they were younger. Having already travelled to West Nepal to build deep water wells, the second part of their trip took them to the East of the country to distribute some of our SchoolBags.
    If you visited our School in a Bag Shop in the Quedam before Christmas you would have seen some of the amazing photos that Georgina took while they were there – we have included some at the end of the post. 
    We’d love to thank Rob and Georgina for all their support and now hand you over to Rob to tell us more about their trip!

    The second part of our adventure took us to Helambu in the Sindhupalchok region of east Nepal, a few hours drive from Kathmandu, up into the incredible foothills of the Himalayas. We were in another 4×4, this time laden with school equipment, picking our way through the monsoon soaked mountain roads, on our way to a remote school where we were to deliver school bags to children affected by the earthquakes in 2015.

    This journey started back in March 2016 when Georgina met the wonderful Luke Simon, an extraordinary guy who started the Piers Simon Appeal and its initiative School in a Bag. They found a common interest in charitable work in Nepal. Luke’s charity had started working there delivering ruck sacks filled with stationery, learning resources and eating utensils to poor, orphaned, disadvantaged and disaster affected children.
    We agreed it was a great opportunity to further help and joined forces on their UK 3 Peaks Challenge. We raised just over £2,000, which paid for 133 bags that we planned on delivering ourselves.

    After the well project tour had completed, we headed back to Kathmandu and met up with Jimmy Lama, the head of School in a Bag’s local Nepali partner HELP, and his right hand man, Mohan Tamang. They were to be our friends and guides for the next few days, helping us distribute the bags they had arranged as part of their collaboration with School in a Bag.
    Jimmy has created an exceptional charity that is focused on his home region of Sindhupalchok, a region devastated by the earthquakes. In this region alone nearly 40% of the 8,698 casualties occurred, and we were told, 70% of residential buildings were destroyed. Jimmy and his team are working hard alongside School in a Bag to distribute school materials and even rebuild several schools in the area.
    The journey to the recipient school took us through some amazing landscapes, in stark contrast to the flat lands we had been in just days before. We were now in the foothills of the Langtang Himalayas, riding along roads in deep gorges or precariously placed on the side of steep valleys. The school had been chosen after an application process deemed the children would particularly benefit from the donation.

    On arriving at the school, we were met by 50 children all eager to see what we were bringing in the back of our packed truck. They helped us unload and we gathered with the rest of the children, the teachers and their parents in a clearing near the school. Georgina and I had become accustomed to receiving garlands of marigolds wherever we went, but at the distribution ceremony it felt like we received flowers from each of the 133 children. We then heard from local dignitaries, an eloquent 7- year-old girl and with Jimmy’s gracious help, I managed to stumble through a few thank you’s in Nepali, and explain we were there representing all our generous donors, to whom they all sent their great thanks.
    The children were clearly very excited to have us there and to be receiving these wonderful gifts.
    After the speeches, we set about filling each bag with the requisite stationery, learning resources and eating utensils. Each child received a SchoolBag filled with various types of exercise books, pens, pencils, a pencil case, a geometry set, a ruler, a tiffin (lunch) box and water bottle. Once filled, I was given the honor of handing out the bags to all the children. Each child is given a SchoolBag with a unique identifying number, so that we can tell you the names of the 133 children who received bags that day, through School in a Bag, you can follow where it has been sent and exactly who has benefitted, a great aspect of the charity.

    The children then sat around examining their bags with looks of joy on their faces. It’s amazing how such simple things, that we take for granted, can help so much. Talking to Jimmy and Mohan about previous distributions it is clear these donations make a big difference. Without exercise books and pens the children can’t take notes during class or do homework. Without tiffin boxes or water bottles the children will go home at lunch time (often a very long walk), missing half a day’s school because they are hungry or thirsty. These bags improve the children’s education drastically and reduce the burden on the parents to have to pay for this equipment.

    The following day Mohan took us to visit a school that had received bags some 5 months previously. Here we saw first-hand the impact that the bags were having on the school. The Headmaster told us that attendance had risen, and grades had improved, a phenomenon seen at many of the schools where SchoolBags have been donated. Another interesting observation from the teachers was that the children had felt a sense of pride and responsibility from being given the SchoolBags. They were often one of their only possessions after losing everything in the earthquakes, and provided a positive influence after such traumatic experiences.

    It was an emotional few days for Georgina and me. We were lucky enough to be the first at School in a Bag to be involved with both the fundraising and distribution of the SchoolBags. To see the impact the bags had on such amazing, inquisitive and happy children was incredibly special. Visiting the second school brought home to us just how important these SchoolBags are, and we are very happy we got to work alongside Luke, Jimmy, Mohan and all the other great people in the UK and Nepal.

    Re-visiting Nepal after so many years was an incredible experience. We saw friends we hadn’t seen in years, places we thought we would never see again and met new people who reminded us that Nepal is a very special place. We are thrilled that we managed to complete both projects successfully, without any major issues, and this was mainly due to the fantastic partners we had working with us. We were very lucky to be helped along the way by our great friends and I would like to take a moment to mention a few of them:
    Luke Simon and his team at School in a Bag, thank you for letting us tag along on your brilliant 3 Peaks Challenge and be part of your amazing charitable family.
    Jimmy Lama and Mohan Tamang and their team at HELP, thank you for arranging everything for us, guiding us and being so helpful throughout our time with you in Sindhupalchok, we couldn’t have done it without you.

    And finally, from Georgina and me, an enormous thank you to everyone who donated to either project. We were touched that so many people, not just our friends and family, donated so generously to causes they believed in.


compose new post
next post/next comment
previous post/previous comment
show/hide comments
go to top
go to login
show/hide help
shift + esc